Petersburg artifacts need new home

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) – Thousands of artifacts that tell the history of Petersburg are in jeopardy of being destroyed. Center Hill Museum is where those precious artifacts are being housed but there's a growing problem -- lack of adequate storage space.

"By default starting in the 1970's -- since the city didn't have any other place to store photographs or archival material, this was the place where a lot of those artifacts came," said Laura Willoughby, curator of collections.

Those artifacts have outgrown the facility and that's not all.

"The system available today to protect these items are things we don't currently have in our museum environment," said Kevin Kirby, director of tourism, museum, and visitor services.

There are problems with humidity, improper lighting, and an outdated air condition system. All can have a negative impact on the artifacts.

"Papers can shrink and expand - photos can start curling," said Willoughby.

So now, the search is on to find a more adequate space to help preserve the collection. Representatives say the most cost effective option is to house the items inside a multi-million dollar library that's set to be constructed in the city. If that doesn't work…

"We'd need to consolidate the collection and look for other buildings," said Willoughby

If a solution isn't found soon the artifacts could become a thing of the past.

"They'd basically become damaged to the point of where we'd start to lose them," said Kirby.

Representatives say they hope to have a number of the more delicate artifacts in a new location within the next two years.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.